Video available here: http://youtu.be/iRD0-YKgxWE
During my thirty-seven years within a cult, I can remember
people leaving. They left never to
return, and soon to be forgotten. While
under the cult programming, we focused on the things in their new lives that we
considered to be “evil,” telling ourselves that their sudden change exposed who
they “really are.”
Now, having spent several months on the other side of this
fence and watching the hundreds who are beginning to flee, I realize just how
backwards that statement really was. Our
thinking was more directed at pacifying our inner questions and concerns rather
than targeting the person for which it was intended.
There is such a wide range of change, and even wider a range
of duration before this change takes place.
Some have left the cult for many years, and really have not changed that
much. For others, it is a slow and
gradual process, taking one step at a time as they learn for themselves between
right and wrong.
Some escapees, however, hit the ground running. Their change is immediate, and they seem to
make themselves as noticeably different as possible in just as little time. Their difference in appearance or personality
is so sudden, in fact, that cult members would consider them “rebels,” and even
more to the point, “rebels without a cause.”
But if we examine the situation a little closer, we find
that even for the “runners,” this statement doesn’t quite fit.
When a person who has been indoctrinated with cult
programming for several years suddenly drops all rules and takes the opposite
stand, it is a shock. Not just to the
cult members, but also to those who are also fleeing – but fleeing a little
more carefully. Even to those on the
outside, these people are “rebels without a cause.”
For a long time, I looked at these people with a very wrong,
critical point of view. I actually
looked down on them as I tried to untangle all of the extra-biblical teaching
from my mind. While I was working
through all of my issues, they seemed to be happy and free, not caring in the
slightest with regards to their eternal destination.
Looking back, I realize that many of them were struggling
much, much worse than the rest of us.
There is emotional scarring from years of emotional and
spiritual abuse, and it causes great inward pain. Many of them also have silent histories of
physical or sexual abuse that turn those scars into open wounds that may never
heal. While other churches are taught to
expose, correct, and even notify authorities, cults by nature are taught by
example to hide these things under the rug.
The system could not survive if the rug were not there.
And while the illegal abuse seems likely to have the most
impact, that’s simply not the case.
Their memory can associate specific events with the abuse, label those
as “wrong,” and move on. But the
emotional and spiritual abuse is much more difficult to label.
Spiritual abuse occurs when a person in religious authority,
usually having a unique spiritual practice, misleads or mistreats his or her
following by misinformation of information or abusing their position. This type of abuse is the most difficult to
heal, because it cannot be noticed during one single event. There are hundreds, thousands, of these very
slight tugs into the direction they lead.
This type of abuse is also difficult to explain. One might point to a specific teaching or a
specific sermon to another cult member, and the abuse is so small that it goes
unnoticed. Many would even deny calling
it “abuse,” because the leader may have simply made a mistake or
To identify spiritual abuse, you must examine the entire
series of teachings, from the day the leader decided that he or she wanted to
rise into authority, to the start and finish of their climb into power, to the teachings
while under spiritual authority and sometimes even unto the last words spoken
before their death.
It is very similar to a criminal investigation. Finding the body does not label the suspect a
killer. You must first find motive, and
then find how that motive was employed.
The cult I escaped had many of these “road signs.” Some of them were so strange that cult pastors
or cult members would ask, “Why would he purposefully do this? Why would he purposefully do that?” They were subtle instances of spiritual abuse
that it seemed no man in their right mind would knowingly do.
I heard the question, “Why would the leader lie about his
conversion to Christ? He continued
preaching ‘the gospel!’” I also heard
the question, “Why would he lie about his own birthdate? There was nothing to be gained by doing so!”
When we take one or two, even ten or twenty instances of spiritual
abuse, and examine them individually, they do seem silly. Even an expert examining them might toss them
aside as “mistakes” or “forgetfulness.”
But when we combine these misleading statements with the hundreds of
other, similar, instances of spiritual abuse, we find a pattern that is
designed to lead the follower in a direction that is away from truth.
It is because of this that we find “rebels without a
cause.” They actually have a cause, or a
purpose, but they themselves do not fully understand what is behind that
Some of them have tried to explain their spiritual abuse to
family or friends, but are not able to piece together the motive for the
murder. Some have even stumbled across
the loaded gun with a missing bullet in the chamber and smoke pouring out the
barrel, but without motive they might as well give up!
These are the people that I feel the most compassion
towards. They’re reaching out, begging
for others to notice, but don’t have all of the information. They sense those thoughts from the scornful
eyes, and realize that they are quickly going to be an outcast. They have stumbled onto the underlying
issues, and now they are forced to give up their life as they once knew it. They just don’t understand why.
As they struggle to find themselves, they find themselves
scorned. Not just by the cult, but also
by some that have escaped. Rebellion
against the right purpose is praised, but “rebel without a cause” is seen as
reckless and dangerous.
But these people do not create sudden change in their lives
because it is comfortable to them. Many
times, it is through severe inward pain.
Many of their changes have to do with outward appearance or with actions
that can be seen easily by others. They
want to be noticed, and they want to be observed as different from those who
are under the spiritual abuse they have uncovered!
In the thirty-seven years of my bondage in the cult, I never
heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike
several of my peers, I studied the cult teaching to levels far beyond most, and
was very eager to listen to the cult leader’s every word. I knew almost every doctrine he created,
every fictional story he told, every supernatural event he deployed in his
campaign of spiritual abuse, and even many of the sermons by heart. The “gospel” we were taught was a different
gospel. The differences were like night
From the day Moses broke the stone tablets over the
idolatrous and rebellious people, mankind has struggled to understand God’s
purpose in giving us the Gospel. These
rules given under the Mosaic Law had purpose, and Jesus tells us exactly what
that purpose is. God wants us to have
perfect love. Love for God and love for
man. All the commandments are summed up
into those two things.
Men do not understand.
They focus their thoughts on the evil that is created by breaking the
rules rather than the good that God intended.
Every single one of the Ten Commandments can be answered by love. If you love, you will not kill. If you love, you will not steal. In all things: love.
When Christ came to fulfill the part of the Covenant that
man could not keep, we entered into the eternal covenant of Grace. And if we examine the spiritual abuse that
the people suffered in the days of Christ, we find some very strong
God was no longer the authority of the people. The Scribes and the Pharisees were seen as
great spiritual leaders, and their interpretation of the Law was the ultimate
authority. Common man could not argue
with their interpretation, because they had no “spiritual authority.”
They had “Lawyers,” men who studied the Law. These men would take the words of that Law
and twist them to their own benefit, raising the “spiritual leaders” into even
higher authority. New “Laws” would be invented,
and none of these new laws could be answered with love. They were “Laws” simply because the leaders
proclaimed them to be so.
To the Scribes and Pharisees, these followers of Christ were
also “rebels without a cause.”
There were many rules under the Mosaic Law that dealt with
outward appearance, outward expressions, and outward actions. These rules did have purpose: God used the Children of Israel to show us
that mankind cannot save itself by their own works. It is only by the Grace of God that we can be
Christ, by example, taught His disciples to be “rebels
without a cause,” or rather, “rebels against tyranny.” Mark 7 gives us an example, Christ teaching
AGAINST the Mosaic Law regarding pork, food sacrificed to idols, and more:
he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and
understand: There is nothing
outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that
come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house
and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to
them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever
goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his
heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods
clean.) And he said, “What comes out of
a person is what defiles him. For from
within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft,
murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander,
pride, foolishness. All these evil
things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Mark 7
Churches today take the scripture “whosoever shall offend
one of these little ones which believe in me” from Matthew 18 out of context to
say that we should respect the religious beliefs of others no matter how wrong
they are. I know many who have escaped
the cult that will strictly adhere to the dress code simply because they want
to show their respect to the friends and family within the cult.
What they do not realize is that they are not showing their
respect to cult members. Once you are on
the outside, all respect is lost.
Instead, they are showing their support to the teaching, no matter how
false. I can remember other cult members
saying, “She still knows it’s wrong to wear those pants – when she’s around us,
she still wears them!”
The laws of modesty had very little to do with
sexuality. “Breeches” were actually a
woman’s garment, and the men wore robes which were similar in structure to the
dresses of women today. Unlike today,
clothing was associated with stature.
When the Bible instructs women not to wear garments that
pertain to men, or to wear “modest” clothing, these teachings are against
“pride,” which Christ just called “evil.”
And sadly, the Pentecostal movement has taught men and women
to become prideful in their choice of apparel.
Others who do not follow their same rules are either scorned or
condemned, making the clothing that seems “modest” with regards to sexuality to
become the very opposite of modest.
Their clothing has now become their idol.
Anything that you include in your worship that does not
follow the teaching of Christ and the new covenant can very easily become
idolatrous. In of itself, there is no
harm in wearing clothing that covers skin.
I know very good, Christian people who wear this type of “modest”
clothing. But when your religion teaches
you that you must live this way in order to be “clean” or “pure,” then you have
just replaced the blood of Jesus Christ for those old rags. You have let your idol nullify the Work that
Christ did for you on the cross.
Looking back, these “rebels without a cause” seemed to be
breaking rules that put them in pathways that angels feared to tread. But after reading the Bible without the
blinders of spiritual abuse, I’m not so sure this is the case. Many of the rules we thought were scriptural
through the twisting of the Bible seem less important as those twisted
scriptures are untangled. Very little of
our rules were founded in love for our fellow man. Many of them actually hurt our fellow man,
and most of them filled our hearts with pride, which is sin. We placed more emphasis on these rules than
we did the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and these rules became our idols.
While they probably did not yet realize it, they were
lifting their hands, saying, “We no longer submit to idolatry! We choose the Blood!”